Gym bags packed, water bottles filled, shoes are on…are you ready to burn some calories? Wait, are you missing something? Well, yes! Yes, you do, and that is your pre-workout food. When you plan to hit the gym, it is essential to fuel the body the right way.
In the era where most youngsters are working out in the gym, they think that to get effective results, they should train harder, do spins faster, run quicker, jump higher, and more. However, they forget to prepare their body with the required energy and strength. They head to the gym on an empty stomach, resulting in a negative or no exercise effect. With this in mind, we have curated this list. This article is for all the fitness freaks who don't know why they should intake a pre-workout meal, what to eat before they leave for the gym, and at what time. Even though the internet is laden with pre-workout food options, we remain confused about what to have for better workout results. So, read and discover more about pre-workout foods. Here’s everything that you need to know for improving your workout performance and gaining better results. Remember, “Like a car uses gas, your body needs nutrients to perform.”
It is essential to nourish the body with the right ingredients before starting with a workout. Nutrients provide energy and strength to exercise more effectively. As per the studies, every micronutrient a person consumes plays a specific role in the training. Hence, knowing what to eat becomes crucial for beneficial results.
Here’s which nutrient you must consume and why.
Glucose present in the carbs provides fuel to the muscles for better performance. It is a primary source of energy while performing short- and high-intensity exercises.
Various studies have proved that protein is of great importance for improving athletic performance. Consuming it in pre-workout foods helps in muscle growth, increases strength and lean body mass.
Fat is the last macronutrient that is much needed to consume for better performance while working out. It is the best source of energy for more extended and moderate-to-low-intensity exercises.
Timing is the most crucial aspect of pre-exercise nutrition. As a general rule of thumb, you can’t consume food right before you leave for the workout as it will make you feel discomfort. To gain the maximum benefits of your meal, you must know when you need to intake it. 2–3 hours are required for the body to absorb all the nutrients of the meal and enjoy the best results while training.
However, if you plan to have pre-workout foods before 45-60 minutes of your training or exercise, you can skip a complete meal with all the micronutrients and have something smaller and simpler. Try to consume carbs and proteins, and they can be easily digested in less time.
Why Is It Important To Eat Pre-Workout Foods?
While talking about pre-workout foods before exercising, it becomes vital to know why we need to consume them. So, here we will discuss the reasons why it is essential:
1. Provides more energy for better performance
2. Prevents muscle breakdown
3. Improves body composition
4. Encourages muscle recovery
5. Increases muscle growth
6. Prevent fatigue or exhaustion
7. Improves endurance
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Here are some pre-workout foods that will pave the way for workouts, whether you do it at home or the gym.
Do you prefer working out in the morning? If yes, having a bowl of oatmeal a few minutes before is one of the best pre-workout foods. Having it will leave you with a lot of energy. As eating a complete meal in the morning a couple of hours before a workout is not possible, a bowl of oatmeal topped with some fruits will be quick and easy to digest. This will keep you filled for a few hours while slowly releasing energy throughout your workout.
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2. Chicken, Rice, & Vegetables
Without an iota of doubt, this is one of the best pre-workout foods to consume. Chicken, rice, and vegetables are a classic meal that is a perfect source of lean protein and complex carbohydrates. This meal promotes anabolism, i.e., muscle growth, and provides a lot of energy. It also has vitamins and other nutrients that are great for the immune system. To gain the maximum benefit from this meal, try to consume it at least 2 hours before the workout.
This is one of the most common pre-workout foods. Although it is not a complete meal but a snack, it is an excellent provider of natural sugars, simple carbs, and potassium. The carbohydrates in bananas are easy to digest, and the potassium it offers stays for a limited time; hence, it is advised to intake bananas just 30 minutes to an hour before a workout. You can also toss it into your gym bag and have it like a last-minute snack.
4. Protein Shakes
Next on the list of pre-workout foods, we have the most popular item - Protein Shake. It is a highly consumed item by those who hit the gym regularly. As the name suggests, it is rich in protein which is much needed to develop muscles, skin, and bones. Sipping a glass of shake a few minutes before working out will provide the body with the nutrients it needs for bodybuilding.
5. Fruit Smoothies
Fruit smoothies are one of the pre-workout foods that are not just healthy but also great in taste. It has a series of micronutrients like calories, sugar, proteins, carbs, and much more. The main benefit of drinking a glass of smoothie is that it won’t make a person feel sluggish while exercising. Apart from its workout benefits, it is excellent for health and well-being. So, next time before you hit the gym, make your own version of fruit smoothie and enjoy it as a pre-workout food.
Also Read: 15 Foods You Must Eat For Healthy Liver
6. Whole Grain Bread
This is another one of the tasty pre-workout meals that are great to consume. Even a single slice of whole-grain bread is rich in carbs. This makes it a source of slow-releasing energy that can fuel a person throughout the workout. To make it more fulfilling and better in taste, you can combine it with sweet potato, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter, or other protein-packed items.
7. Energy/Granola Bars
Energy bars are a popular snack among gym enthusiasts. It is a super easy-to-consume snack that doesn’t require any cooking, baking, or other efforts. Also, it is high in carbohydrates which provides the body with the energy necessary to enjoy an effective workout. If you want your granola bar to be more beneficial, you can easily make it at home by following any easy recipe. This quick top-up is one of the best pre-workout foods for optimizing your energy.
8. Dry Fruits
Last but not least, we have dry fruits for you. This is again one of the pre-workout foods that are considered a snack rather than a complete meal. It is a quick snack that is a good carb source and easy to digest. You can have a handful of dry fruits like dried berries, raisins, apricots, figs, almonds, etc. Consuming them provides a hit of energy for a better workout. Also, dry fruits contain antioxidants which help in better utilization of oxygen by the body.
Summing it up, pre-workout foods are essential for maximizing performance and enhancing recovery. By now, you know the importance of eating something before a workout, so try a few food items and figure out what works the best for you. Although it is essential to eat something before a workout, you should not chow down heartily. All you need is to find a middle path of eating right at the right time. Try to be creative with the food combinations and give extra attention to the timings. Finding the right mix might be challenging at first, but trust us, it will change your workout game once you do.